City guide: San Diego

This coastal paradise is California cool but ready for business.

Located in Southern California, on the border of Mexico, San Diego is coastal paradise known for its laid-back vibe, surf culture and year-round gorgeous weather.

Entertainment and hospitality; communications technology; aerospace and maritime technology; and biotechnology and pharmaceuticals are major business sectors. But farming is big, too. San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the U.S., and it’s the nation’s top producer of avocados.

Getting to and from the airport

It takes just a few minutes to get from San Diego International Airport to downtown. You’ll find taxis and rideshare stands in transportation plazas in front of terminals 1 and 2. Buses depart from each terminal every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays. The San Diego Trolley is a light-rail option that serves downtown and popular attractions. A one-way fare is US$2.25.

Where to stay:


  • Andaz San Diego, 600 F St.; Ph: 619-849-1234
  • Fairmont Grand Del Mar, 5300 Grand Del Mar Court; Ph: 858-314-2000

Upper upscale:

Omni San Diego, 675 L St.; Ph: 619-231-6664


  • Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego, 1047 Fifth Ave.; Ph: 619-515-300


  • Best Western Plus Bayside Inn, 555 West Ash St.; Ph: 619-233-7500
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites San Diego Mission Bay, 4610 Desoto St.; Ph: 858-483-98


  • Travelodge San Diego Downtown Convention Center, 1801 Logan Ave.; Ph: 619-752-1100

Things to see and do

Balboa Park is a one-stop shop for recreation. The park has 16 museums (and counting), stunning gardens, including the Botanical Building and Cactus Garden, the legendary San Diego Zoo and much more—all in the same 1,200 acres. Passes start at $48.

When in San Diego, do as the San Diegans. Catch some sunshine and waves at one of the city’s beautiful beaches, among them Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. Have lunch with the seals and sea lions at Seal Rock in La Jolla. See a show, do some dancing and enjoy traditional dishes in Old Town San Diego.

Get a bird’s-eye view of the beach from one of San Diego Air Tour’s antique biplanes. The 20- to 60-minute rides for two start at $199. If you prefer to indulge your love of aviation on the ground, visit the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

If a long day of meetings has you in the mood for some nightlife, try the historic Gaslamp Quarter. The district features 16½ blocks of nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops and attractions. During the day, enjoy one of Gaslamp’s museums or art galleries.

Where to eat

Panama 66 in the Sculpture Court of the San Diego Museum of Art offers a beautiful outdoor dining experience in Balboa Park. Enjoy live music, casual dishes, craft beers and views of the museum’s sculpture garden. It’s at 1450 El Prado; Ph: 619-696-1966.

For a California spin on Midwest cuisine, go to Hash House A Go Go, a quirky eatery that takes food to new heights. (Check out the mile-high meatloaf.) The outrageous presentation of farm-fresh dishes will have you gawking at every plate that comes out of the kitchen. Find it at 3628 Fifth Ave.; Ph: 619-298-4646.

San Diego boasts more than 100 breweries. (Would you expect anything less from this laid-back city?) Try some of the local brews at Project Bar & Grill, which rotates its menu of craft beers and serves them with gourmet pub bites. The sports-bar-style establishment is at 3683 Fifth Ave.; Ph: 619-795-7890.

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